Field Trip Summary Report
In April / May 2009, Sylvester Renner, the President of the Develop Africa, had the opportunity to go on a field trip to Freetown, Sierra Leone. The following is a summary of activities during his trip:
Visit to Partner Schools – Books, School and Teaching Supplies, Scholarships:
Sylvester and Joanne Tucker (Sierra Leonean Coordinator) visited three of the partner schools that have received books, school and teaching supplies, scholarships - provided by schools, children, companies and donors worldwide.
Sylvester and Joanne were very warmly received at each school. They had a brief meeting with the school Principals / Head Teachers and were given a guided tour of each school. The children, teachers and Principals expressed their deep gratitude for the assistance that you (school children, parents, teachers, individuals and businesses worldwide) have helped provide over the years. They asked Sylvester to convey their appreciation for all materials received. As they explained some of these materials are hard to come by. By providing these supplies free to the students, we are together promoting and supporting education. By providing a supportive environment, the children are better able to learn.
The pictures in the photo albums from the different schools show:
- Some of the teaching supplies in use / on display on the walls in the classrooms.
- Books in the school library.
Click on the school name links below to see photos from each school:
XO Laptops Donated To Eva Houston School:
During the visit, Sylvester also had the opportunity to present 3 XO children’s laptops to the Eva Houston Preparatory School. The school was very grateful to receive the laptops. Sylvester also visited the computer lab, which is almost ready for use, pending funding and set up of internet access.
Leadership Symposium by LEAD Global:
While in Freetown, Sylvester had the opportunity to participate in and contribute to discussions in a Leadership Symposium organized by LEAD Global. During this Leadership Symposium, topics such as “character” and “trust” were discussed. Practical, small group sessions discussed the application of principles to everyday decision-making. Attendees of the Symposium came from a wide range of backgrounds including business owners, government service, and non-profit occupations.
Microfinance Beneficiaries Group Meeting and Site Visits:
Beneficiaries of Develop Africa's Microfinance program had a group meeting with Sylvester Renner and Janet Tucker (Develop Africa Board Member). During the meeting, the recipients expressed their gratitude for the funds received that had helped them to start or expand their businesses. The participants were also particularly appreciative of the practical training that they had received at the start of the program several months ago.
The participants who have each received an interest-free loan are currently repaying the loan at the rate to 5-10% monthly. Funds will be re-invested into additional businesses at the end of the year. The beneficiaries asked Sylvester to expressly convey their gratitude to the donors that have helped make a big difference in their lives. During the meeting, the beneficiaries discussed strategies for improving their businesses and lessons learned. Beneficiaries also discussed the challenges that they were facing and how to overcome them.
In addition to the group meeting, Sylvester and Janet Tucker had the opportunity to visit the business locations of several of the microfinance businesses that have received funds and training. Some of the businesses have a stall / shop, while others are run from their places of residence. This visit provided the opportunity to further verify the operations of each business, provide a field evaluation and relevant on-site suggestions. The beneficiaries are involved in the trade of a wide range of items including the following: coal, firewood, kerosene, sweets, candy, water, drinks (soda), onions, palm oil, powdered soap, vehicle lubricants, used automotive spare parts etc.
Visit and Donation to Special Needs Skills Training & Vocational Center
Sylvester also made two visits to the Handicap Action Movement – Vocational Training and Production Center in Wellington. He had brief meeting with the management staff at this special needs camp. Youths and young adults are involved in a wide range of activities including the following: blacksmith work, welding, tailoring, electronic repair etc. Sylvester was able to observe the youths and young adults at work and toured the facilities. During the visit, Sylvester provided a donation from Develop Africa towards the programs of the Center continuing DA's partnership with this organization. The Center provides skills training, a vital path to empowerment, with income generating activities.
Meeting With Partner Youth Group
Sylvester also visited and held 2 meetings with Youth Development and Empowerment Movement (YEDEM), a partner youth organization. Develop Africa currently provides on-going web-related technical support to this organization.
During the meetings, the officials explained that they had recently moved into a new office needed funds to set up internet access. This was needed for training, research purposes and to help further their programs. On behalf of develop Africa, Sylvester provided a donation to help set up internet access. During the meeting, they also discussed initial plans for future volunteer exchange and internship visits for Community Service Interns who would be involved in a range of activities such as - teaching grant writing, journalism, media-related skills, computer skills, helping organize and build the organization etc.
Below is Fatmata's testimonial, a microfinance beneficiary